COLUMN: How Indiana University funds human rights abusers


It is our right to look into the companies that IU invests in, seeing as it is a publicly funded university.

Upon a records request to the General Counsel and a meeting with IU Treasurer Don Lukes, I discovered IU invests in the companies Stanley Black and Decker, Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

These companies are under a litany of international scrutiny and calls for boycotts because they all directly assist, in one form or another, Israel in its quest to illegally seize and control Palestinian territory.

It is in the interest of the students at IU to not contribute to the suffering of people anywhere, which is why we need to stop investing in these companies.

The borders between Palestinian and Israeli territory have been agreed upon through the signing of the Oslo Accords, and the United Nations has condemned Israel’s encroachments.

Human rights activists worldwide have joined Palestinians in calls for the boycott and divestment of these four companies in addition to many others that perpetuate Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and its unending encroachment and control on areas like the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

These companies are critical in Israel’s ability to continue its illegal settlements and human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Caterpillar excavators and other construction equipment are regularly used to demolish Palestinian structures and construct Israeli settlements. The Israeli army often uses a “pressure cooker” procedure, which uses the excavators as a weapon along with firearms and explosives.

Caterpillar has long been a supplier of the Israeli military and its equipment has been used in large scale house demolitions in Gaza and the killing and displacement of many Palestinians using the pressure cooker procedure.

HP is crucial in Israel’s control over Palestinians by providing and operating most of the technological infrastructure in settlements and along the border wall.

HP is contracted to maintain the BASEL biometric system in the West Bank and Gaza checkpoints that uses hand and face recognition and a permit system for Palestinian workers. HP also assists the Israeli navy in its blockade on Gaza.

The company’s compliance with Israel is often compared to the way Polaroid technology was used in South Africa’s passbook system during apartheid. Following Polaroid taking its influence out of South Africa, there was a substantial turning point in the fight to end apartheid.

Keter Plastics is an Israeli plastics company whose products are also sold through its majority shareholder Stanley Black and Decker. Keter manufactures in the Barkan industrial zone, which is an illegal settlement near the city of Ariel. Industrial waste from the Barkan industrial zone regularly leaks onto Palestinian villages and farmland.

Teva Pharmaceuticals is an Israeli pharmaceutical company and is on a United Nations Human Rights Council blacklist among several other companies for doing business and operating in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Since only drugs registered in Israel are allowed into Gaza or the West Bank, this puts a stranglehold on the Palestinian pharmaceutical market by not allowing the import or export of any other drugs from nearby pharmaceutical markets.

By Dec. 31, 2018, IU had invested over $3.5 million into these companies. I think if we truly want to call ourselves a progressive university, we should pull our investments from these companies and take a stand for the rights of all people.

We need to urge the Indiana University Board of Trustees and the University Investment Committee to reallocate investments and pursue companies that do not have a record that takes a stance against human rights.

IU students should not have their tuition money funding companies which take part in such gross human rights violations.

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